Lodging Taxes

If you have ever had to itemize a hotel bill for an expense report you will know that the United States has lodging taxes attached to hotels. Fun fact, it is not legally required in every state. I must have been “lucky” to have traveled to all the states that require it as I swear I spent more time trying to work my expense report than I did at the conference I was sent to.

But we Americans are not the only ones with this tax. The hotel tax, or value added tax (VAT for short), is fairly common in Europe. London for example has a 20% tax on lodging, Germany I believe is 7% in some spots and 19% in others.

Since I often don’t stay in hotels and instead opt for short term apartment rentals the VAT’s aren’t quite as high.  I think when we last stayed in Austria we only paid an extra dollar a night. But we did have to fill out a temporary residency card which was turned in to the police by the management team along with our taxes. This isn’t anything weird I promise! I had to do it while I was there for school as well.

However when I am doing a more hop and go type trip I have since decided to not worry about the taxes. It is just a given travel expense for the most part. If you would like to learn more about them and perhaps like to try to save some money by applying for refunds below are a few resources I have found around on the internet.

  • https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/vat-refunds
  • http://gogreece.about.com/od/Glossary-of-Greek-Terms/g/Vat-Or-V-A-T-Tax-In-Greece.htm
  • http://europa.eu/youreurope/business/vat-customs/buy-sell/index_en.htm

The point here really is to know your expenses. Lodging taxes can add up quickly and become a significant portion of your travel budget if you aren’t careful. Additionally many locations can appear cheap only to charge you taxes you weren’t aware of when you arrive at your stay. Even if you aren’t worried about a few extra dollars here and there it is good to understand why you are being charged and where that money is going.

Have you ever tried to get refunds for VATs? Or do you also just let them slide and write them off as a normal travel expense?


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